Sauvignon Blanc

The name Sauvignon Blanc is believed to originate from the French word Sauvage meaning wild because its leaves resemble wild grapevine leaves. Invariably this grape variety and much-loved wine is known for its high acid and intense aromatics. But it has many different guises here at Cavavin Ireland with classic examples from the Loire Valley (e.g. Sancerre, Pouilly-Fumé, Touraine) where it’s lighter bodied and more grassy but as you travel north to Bordeaux it becomes more complex and weighty. 
Then let’s not forget about the New World champs New Zealand where it’s recognisable for its intense aromatics and lip smacking acidity and last but not least our new addition Morocco. So sit back and enjoy this fascinating Journey through Sauvignon Blanc at Cavavin.

France: Most at home in the Loire Valley

Sauvignon loves a temperate climate which it has in abundance in France and in the Loire Valley in particular. France is still the leading region for having the most plantings of the grape despite New Zealand’s fame and championing of it. Loire Valley is known as ‘The Garden of France’ where the vines cohabit with the remarkable flora of the region. The village, region and wine of Sancerre AOC Domaine Serge Laloue Sancerre 2021 or Domaine Serge Laloue Sancerre Cuvée Silex 2020 and its neighbouring (across the river Cher) Pouilly-Fumé AOC Jean Pabiot Pouilly Fumé 2021 in the east of the valley is Sauvignon’s showcase and France’s most recognisable wine and where this prized grape has found its stomping ground. The wines from here are 100% sauvignon blanc and are dry with high acidity and lifted ‘green’ aromatics (grass, asparagus, green apple). The terroir here is 40% limestone, 40% clay-limestone and 20% silex/flint. It's the combination of the soils and the climate (continental with cold winters) that makes these wines so distinctive and sought after with glorious acidity, green fruits, a steely character and complexity and longevity that
allows them to be savoured for years and years (if they last that long!). Some aspiring neighbours of Sancerre and Pouilly, and in my mind, where the real affordability and exceptional quality is, are the villages, regions and wines of Quincy AOC Quincy 'Le Champ aux Lievres' Sauvignon Blanc 2022 and Reuilly AOC Vignerons Mabillot Sauvignon Blanc 2022. Here, the vibrant versions of Sauvignon Blanc are best drunk young. These two regions are experiencing a revival (from near extinction) at the moment thanks to producers sharing cellars and vineyard equipment. The sauvignon from both these regions is Sancerre-esque and deliciously crisp with a little more fruit and roundness perhaps. Well worth exploring and tasting. To the west of these villages you land in Touraine AOC D. Bardon Touraine Les Demoiselles 2022 which produces more affordable and fruity expressions of sauvignon blanc but still characteristically dry and steely. Last but not least hop over to the coastal region of Fiefs Vendéens and explore and taste Cavavin’s personal favourite and best-selling J. Mourat O.V.N.I. 2022. This is a blend of Sauvignon blanc and Chardonnay and although it's not your typical example of a Loire sauvignon it’s stunningly refreshing and is bursting with flavour and personality.

France: Let’s not forget about Bordeaux
Bordeaux is a vast region of potentially long-lived reds, sweet whites and ... wait for it ...dry whites. Bordeaux is the largest fine wine district on earth.
The production of white wines may be tiny in comparison to the reds but it is known for some very fine examples of dry Sauvignon Blanc primarily from the Graves region Chateau la Rose Sarron Graves 2022 or simply Bordeaux
AC Chateau Bernes Bordeaux blanc 2021. Typically, the whites are a blend of both Sauvignon and Sémillon grapes but there are some single varietal examples of Sauvignon blanc (like the Chateau Bernes linked above). The Sauvignon from Bordeaux differs to Sancerre because of climate and soils but also some of the sauvignon sees some oak ageing which gives the wine more complexity and layers of flavour. The Graves region in the past typically gave a mediocre commercial white wine but it has seen quite the revival today with some real top-notch wines that are crisp and full of personality and flavour. Last but not least, let’s not forget the Bordeaux Côtes, particularly, Blaye Côtes de Bordeaux AC Chateau Haut-Terrier Blaye Côtes de Bordeaux 2021. Another example of a crisp and zesty sauvignon well worth exploring.

New Zealand: The New World ‘Expert’ in Sauvignon Blanc
Sauvignon blanc has exploded in New Zealand and is like a flowing tap it seems, with no kink in the pipe. It’s a firm favourite here in Ireland and likely the most sought after white wine across bars, restaurants and wine shops. And for good reason. The big question is, has this well educated student who has learned from some of the best and historical examples of Sauvignon Blanc now become its master? In 20 years the nation of the All Blacks has announced itself as the jewel of the New World and an expert in Sauvignon Blanc which makes up for more than 60% of its wine area. New Zealand wines are distinctive for their freshness and precision and the Marlborough region. 
Opawa Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc 2022 perfects Sauvignon Blanc. Move over Cloudy Bay and make way for your new favourite!

Morocco: A new adventure for Sauvignon Blanc
Although wine has always been produced by those who drink it, the Maghreb country (Morocco, Tunisia, Algeria) is the exception that proves the rule. The
Koran forbids those who are faithful to it to consume fermented beverages and yet, winemaking has never ceased here.
Between olive trees and date palms grapevines weave along the coastal plains. The majority of wine produced is consumed on the spot by tourists or exported. 75% of wine production is red but that still leaves 25% for whites, one of which is sauvignon blanc. The winery Domaine Ouled Thaleb is named after the tribe that owns the vineyards’ lands and works at the winery. Established in 1923 this winery was the leader in the renewal of the Moroccan wine industry. Domaine des Ouled Thaleb Cuvée Premiere 2018 is a blend of Sauvignon and Viogn er and has graced some of the best tables in the world. It’s lively yet velvety smooth and full of aromatic richness. 
July 10, 2023 — Louise O'Brien